Tarpon roaming (hunting?), plus good red action in backwater
Dr. Scott Clulow (holding the fish), his dad Kent and nephew Anthony, visiting from Buffalo, caught a mess of snook on the last days of linesider season while fishing with Capt. Thom Smith in Terra Ceia and Miguel Bays.
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Here's a fun - funny, and true - fish story.
A local angler was in a fishing tourney just a bit to our south when she hooked into a big tarpon. While fighting the silver king, she lost her footing and ended up in the Gulf of Mexico, still desperately clutching her rod and reel and finding herself bodysurfing along after the fish.
Captain and mate were quick to come to her rescue, but she refused to relinquish the rod as it would have disqualified her from the event. After a lot of "tarpon body-boarding," they eventually hauled her out of the water, still holding the rod, onto the deck of the boat.
"Get up! Get up! You can't fight a tarpon laying on the deck!" the captain kept saying, but our intrepid angler couldn't stand up for laughing.
The fish was lost, but a good time was had by all.
Tarpon are a good bet off the beaches right now, with mackerel fishing also an excellent choice. Grouper action out in the Gulf is great, as is snapper.
In the bays, redfish are starting to make a good showing, plus there are reports of some big flounder and lots of catch-and-release snook.
Hey, it's a good time to have fun out there, but remember to try to stay in the boat, OK?
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's finding lots of redfish in Terra Ceia Bay, some catch-and-release snook, trout and a 22-inch flounder, all caught on live bait.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said it's pretty much a game of "What do you want to catch?" out on the water right now. Tarpon are about as good as they're going to get. The pelagics - sailfish, wahoo, tuna, dolphin and the like - are moving along the coast somewhat offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Closer to shore, look for permit, huge mackerel. And mangrove snapper are thick in the bays. That's not to mention the catch-and-release snook, redfish, flounder ... you get the idea.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said best bets there were snapper, mackerel, catch-and-release snook plus a few tarpon hookups. Bob said fishing is pretty good right now, too.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are getting into some good-size mackerel on the better tides, plus mangrove snapper, flounder, yellowtail jacks and catch-and-release snook at night, plus lots of tarpon passing the pier - and sometimes hitting - during the days.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of mackerel outside of Terra Ceia Bay, and redfish are lurking inside. There was one huge flounder brought back to the dock last week, and snapper are plentiful near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge pier systems.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said redfish are starting to make a better showing of late, and mackerel are thick with limit catches on most of his days out on the water.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports included good-sized and plentiful redfish, a few big flounder, schools of snook under the Anna Maria Island Bridge, and one tarpon caught and released by a boater.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's finding lots of permit on the artificial reefs, but snapper and mackerel action is his hot ticket right now, with catch-and-release snook and redfish a good backup for bay fishing.
Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said, if it's grouper you want, "come and see me." He's bringing in excellent catches from about 100 feet of water, with some fish coming in at over 25 pounds, plus great catches of lane, yellowtail and mangrove snapper to 5 pounds.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's finding lots of bonita to 12 pounds, mackerel, snapper to 6 pounds, banded rudderfish and a few tarpon caught along the beaches last week.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's putting his charters onto lots of trout, reds, catch-and-release snook and flounder in the bays. Tarpon fishing for him is hot on the outgoing tides right now, and he's also doing very well with offshore permit.
On my boat Magic, we caught a late 12-pound kingfish last week, mackerel from 25 to 30 inches, snapper to 17 inches and plenty of redfish up to 27 inches long.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.